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Israel, Clay In The Potter's Hands

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
January 24, 2021 1:00 am

Israel, Clay In The Potter's Hands

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer

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January 24, 2021 1:00 am

Many people think they are masters of their own destiny. But God sees His people as clay on a potter’s wheel, and since He’s the potter, He is in control of their destiny. We must learn to see ourselves as vessels God can make and remake as He chooses.

 Click here to listen (Duration 54:30)

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Many people think they are masters of their own destiny, but God sees his people as clay on a potter's wheel and since he's the potter. He is in control of their destiny today.

Learning to see ourselves as vessels God can make and remake as he chooses from Chicago. We welcome you to The Moody Church. Our weekly service of worship and teaching under the ministry of Dr. Erwin Lutzer on this broadcast. We continue a 10 part series on the church in Babylon unleashing the power of a spirit filled witness later Erwin Blitzer will turn to Jeremiah chapter 18 and talk about Israel clay in the potter's hands. Dr. Blitzer comes now to open our service. We are so glad that you are worshiping with us today and we hope that that before you come to church on Sunday that you always take out at least a few minutes and have your heart quieted before the Lord, so that we can speak to God in our worship, so that we can listen to his voice and were open to whatever he shares with us were going to be emphasizing the need that keeping our lights burning we have some very special music and then we had the privilege of listening to God's holy word would you join with me as we get this service to the Lord. Father, we thank you that when we come in to this place that we are coming into a place that is especially dedicated to you and that we recognize that it is in this sanctuary. Here, The Moody Church and that many of course you are listening in other places and in other ways that we dedicate these moments to you and say speak to us, teach us.

We ask especially that we would be yielded to you and may we know in our own lives. The power and the glory of living for you in Jesus name and the will and in and in and in and in and in and in now make it real hearts. May there be nothing that we withhold from you come father we ask that you shall give this wheels there yielded an hearts that are focused upon you and your greatness and love in Jesus name, amen, amen. You may be seated and chapter 63 of Isaiah. While the people of Israel were coming under God's judgment in exile. Please read aloud with me on the bold print. This is God's holy word. I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted us in the great goodness to the house of Israel that he has granted them according to his compassion.

According to the abundance of his steadfast love but they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. Therefore, he turned to be the enemy and himself fought against them.

Then he remembered the days of old Moses and his people.

Where is he who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock. Where is he who put in the midst of them. His Holy Spirit who caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them so you lead your people to make for yourself a glorious name look down from heaven and see from your holy and beautiful habitation. Where are your ceiling, your might. The stirring of your inner parts and your compassion are held back from me, for you are our father Abraham does not know, and Israel does not knowledge us.

You will Lord our our father, our Redeemer from of old is your name Lord, why do you make us wonder from your ways and harden our hearts so that we fear you not return for the sake of your servants the tribes of your heritage when you did something that we did not look for you came down the mountains quake that your presence from of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear know I have seen God besides you asked for those who wait for him, but now will Lord you are our father. We play and you are our potter we are all of your hand today as I speak. If I pause in the middle of a sentence or after a sentence. It might not be because I've lost my place last 10 sermons I preached I preach through an interpreter. And when you preach through an interpreter. You always have time to think of what the next sentence is going to be.

I like preaching through an interpreter. Actually, less stress, more time to think, and so forth and do short direct sentences. I love through an interpreter. But today I will not have an interpreter. I think that God is going to keep me on track all the way. The question is this whether America what is happening in the United States of America that is of importance as we see various dominoes coming down one after another. What are the great lessons that we learn from the situation in Israel and Judah.

If ever there was a message that you really need to hear. It's the one. Particularly the next message when I'm going to describe you exactly what happened how the Babylonians came down how Jerusalem was destroyed. The suffering that the people went through all of which is going to be relevant to where we are in the United States is not that I think that the United States is Israel.

Sometimes my breath is taken away when I think of what God is willing to do to a nation that abandons him today were going to be in the 18th chapter of the book of Jeremiah Jeremiah chapter 18 the title of this series is the church in Babylon unleashing the power of the spirit filled witness you say well you haven't spent a lot of time so far talking about the spirit filled witness will eventually in this series we will we talk about the land of Judah being inhabited then by Babylonians, and they leave folks and Judah are in Babylon were going to talk about their witness in a pagan culture. But in the 18th chapter of Jeremiah, God sends Jeremiah on a field and says what I want you to do is to go down to the potter's house because I have a message for Israel and the best way to illustrate it is for you to go there and watch a potter at work.

I'm going to pick it up.

Actually in verse two of the 18th chapter.

So I went down to the potter's house and there he was working at his wheel and the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do in the word of the Lord came to me all house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done, declares the Lord.

Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so you are in my hand whole house of Israel if it any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will pluck it up and break it down and destroy it. That nation concerning which I've spoken turns from its evil. I will relent from the disaster. But if the opposite happens will then verse nine God will judge and notice this, I'm skipping to E verse 11 the middle of the verse. I am shaping disaster against you and devise a plan against God saying back to his people. I'm devising a plan against you and shaping disaster against you while takes your breath away. God hates sin.

Well, now what were going to do is I want you to bring your cameras don't take out your cell phones and take a picture right now but pretend that you have your cell phone camera or another camera.

Everybody because were going down to the potter's house with Jeremiah and were going to take more pictures that I want you to visualize in your mind, picture number one is the potter who in this analogy, of course, is God and how does the potter work, he works purposefully.

He has in his mind the image of a vessel. He wants to make. Maybe it is a vessel for water. It may be a flowerpot. It may be water pot, but he has in his mind, its size and its shape and he begins to work with a purpose now. Not only does he work purposefully. He works very patiently. He's not going to substitute beauty for speed so he takes his time and there he is here shaping this vessel as it seems good to him. He's working authoritatively. In other words, the vessel has no right to say to the potter don't make me like that make me like he is working with authority, because he knows the exact he what he has in mind. He is after all the potter.

Let's look at the second feature and take a second picture very quickly and that is the wheel it says there in the last part of verse three was sitting at wheel now. What is the wheel over to relate this passage to ourselves but also to Israel its first interpretation has to do with Israel but I think it applies to us as well.

What is the wheel that God uses to shape us into the vessel that he desires well, first of all, it circumstances its promotions. It is the motion. It is the hardships of life. It is sickness. It is discouragement. All of that gets poured into our lives because God says I have something in mind that I am shaping that only difficult circumstances will bring about. I want you to be a special shape as special vessel of honor, and that can happen in your life as long as everything is well so uses circumstances, uses other people. He uses people with their injustice with their intolerance. Perhaps in the sense that they are judgmental of us. He uses pain that others bring upon us and at the point to be made is that the pot has no right to say to the potter. You can't use that Paul says in Romans chapter 9, he says, can it be that the thing that is for namely the pot can say to the potter. Why have you made me this way.

Mrs. does not the potter have even power over the clay to make a vessel on daughter and want to dishonor is the potter. The one that is in charge and the answer is yes. In fact, the potter can even use the devil as he did in the case of Job, who experienced all of this great because God gave Satan the right to the power to be able to destroy his family and children. Or, as in the case of Peter where Jesus said to Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to have you, that he might sift you as wheat and I've prayed for you that your faith may not fail you see because the potter is sovereign. He can use whatever you like. Now, in the case of Israel.

God was using Jeremiah as that will Jeremiah's message of judgment.

Jeremiah's message that says repent, repent here. Oh Israel, turn from your sin and repent, and he was using Ezekiel and other prophets who lived during this period of time. God says this is the wheel I'm shaping you into a certain vessel and you can be the vessel that I want you to be on less you listen to me and you will gain me and you turn to me right. That's the second picture that we've taken. We've taken a picture of the potter and by the way, when you go to Israel today. You can actually go into a potter's house and watch them work. We've taken a picture of the potter. We've taken a picture of the wheel.

Now what we need to do is to look at the first vessel.

Your Bibles are open and you'll notice it says there in verse four, and a vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do vessel number one here is the potter. He is at work and suddenly he notices that the clay is long and because the clay is a lumpy. That vessel loses its symmetry.

And once you begin to try to straighten it out no matter what instruments you use as it's been on the wheel you discovered that it is not going to be what you had in mind. It is not going to be an ideal pot at all and so the potter notices that it was spoiled. I think the King James. If I remember correctly says that it was marred in the hands of the potter a love that word marred lumpy lack of symmetry. Perhaps within and even some ingredients that have caused it to be that way. And so the first vessel is spoiled in the potter's hands. What we need to do as theologians in every Christian is a theologian, you can't get saved, unless you know some doctrine about Jesus and the whole doctrine of sin and how you need to believe in.

But we have to back off just a moment to catch our breath and ask ourselves this question.

Does God the father sometimes fail when he is making a vessel. Clearly this potter was making a vessel that didn't turn out to be what he had in mind. Does God fail. Today it seems as if we have hundreds of students here from the Moody Bible Institute.

I suggest that you asked your professors that tomorrow morning.

Whether or not God fails. The fact is this that tab and this is the time when I wish this wasn't just a sermon classroom with the ideal we could talk back and forth and clarified. But this has to be a sermon to Talk back to me out loud right now you can in your mind but not directly, but let me say this, that when it comes to God's eternal purposes is invisible eternal purposes. God, of course, never fails. God always achieves his purpose. Our God is in the heavens. He can do whatever he pleases and does do whatever he pleases God never never fails in his eternal purpose and a reason for that. And I know that some of you apparently were going to clap will give you that opportunity maybe a little later on.

The reason for that is because God even in his sovereignty has in mind something for that vessels of destruction of all things Paul makes that clear in the ninth chapter of Romans tell you this is going to be a tough message that for some of you may turn away, but for others it's going to be the means of delivering so hang on me.

Fact is that God even uses marred vessels, spoiled vessels for his eternal purposes. So, God never fails in his eternal purpose, but if you look at it narrowly and you look at that through a very narrow lens. It certainly appears to us as if God has one thing in mind, and it doesn't turn out to be the way in which God intended. And so the first vessel is actually spoiled and marred in the hands of the potter. Now there's 1/4 picture that we have to take today in the fourth picture is the next vessel that the potter makes you'll notice it says that and the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hands I'm still in verse four and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do it is the fourth picture is the other vessel. Now you and I might have if we are working with this lump of clay and it was lumpy and that it lacks symmetry and it resisted what we were trying to do and that of course is the impression here that Israel was clearly resisting what God and we probably say to ourselves, will let me take that lump of clay and let me simply throw it away against the wall. Eventually it will become hardened and it will be entirely useless and let me take a brand-new lump and make a vessel that I think is going to turn out much better. You and I would do that but I find it interesting in the text that this part to kill her man. This particular potter doesn't do that. He takes the lump of clay and the Bible says he remakes it.

That is, he takes it and he crushes it and he starts over again as it were, so that he can finally make it into the vessel that really will be a blessing to him vessel on to honor and one that is for his use so that it can become a flowerpot, a water pot rather than a crackpot.

I thought I'd throw that in to see if you are totally with now when he reshapes it.

Aren't you glad that God uses the same claim in the case of Israel.

God says I'm going to reshape you. It won't be that same generation of Israelite. It'll be another generation of Israelites, but we believe that a day is coming when God is even going to reshape Israel, and Israel will still recognize its Messiah and eventually that nation to which it is referred here. You'll notice, the Bible applies this verse five, verse six, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you is the potter does, declares the Lord God is going to remake the nation nation's gonna recognize that Jesus is Messiah and God is going to glory from the vessel that will please put in our case to see what God does is he remakes the vessel. He begins with the raw material and then when we come to know him as Savior. What does he do what does a potter do after he has shape the clay in its the proper size. What the potter does is he puts it into kill. That is furnace a blast furnace. I don't know how many degrees it takes but of course it is glazed and then it is or afterwards. It is glazed. It is in this oven that bakes that vessel and I can imagine that if that vessel could talk, it would say no, no, no, no, it's too high, but the potter keeps his hand on the thermostat and he knows what is best for that vessel and he turns up the heat because he's after something.

He's after a very special vessel and it can't be all that it can be unless it is put into the furnace yesterday Rebecca read to me a blog of someone who's going through a very hard time. It's somebody who's child is actually dying of cancer and this woman spilled out her heart to God.

With that she said I'm angry with God and she just wrote everything out and you know I don't judge her and I'll tell you why, because all of us have felt that way you know when you read the Psalm someday I'm going to preach on this sometime going to preach on the need for many people to forgive God. Not that he personally needs forgiveness, but we had better take care of some issues that we have with God. We've all felt this way.

David felt this way in the Psalms all point that out when I preach on it someday. David said things like, I'm giving my complaint to God. God, where are you when I need you. Why is it that you give me always night and never day and on and on and on he go God can handle her doubts he can even handle your anger at the end of the day though I have no doubt this woman will pass the test. But now, when the heat is on. She's screaming like many of us have screamed and say why and no God, and by the way, when I was in Brazil had a few moments, I wrote down 11 or 12 questions I'd like to ask God. Some may God is even more mysterious to me in many ways, the older I get, than when I was younger when I thought I had him out. I will officially given up trying to figure God out because you see of the mystery I mean why do young people die good people die and the evil live long lives. I mean so many things about God. We don't understand, but he says, trust me, I'll put you in the furnace and I will make vessel that I desire and when the killing had done its work in the furnace had done its work.

The other vessel was exactly exactly what the potter wanted and so there is the reading made vessel now. What are the lessons that should be transforming for us individually. First of all, as a nation.

And then, even as us as individuals.

Let me give you two at least number one what this passage teaches is that God is sovereign, not just in your life and mine as he makes this into the vessel that he desires not just that but is sovereign over nations.

Let me read it to you again verse seven.

If it any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will pluck up and break down and destroyed.

And if that nation concerning which I've spoken turns from its evil.

I will relent of the disaster, and if it any time I declare concerning a nation or kingdom that I will build implanted and if it does evil in my sight. Not listening to my voice. Then I will I relent to the good that I had intended to do it now therefore say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, thus says the Lord. Behold, I am shaping disaster against you, and devising a plan against you return everyone from his evil way and amend your ways and how does the nation respond. I think it responds like much of America's responding today. They say it is vain.

We will follow her own plans and everyone will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart. Thank you very much God, but we are going to resist the potter at every opportunity, and we will say we will reshape ourselves into the Asian individually and collectively as a nation we will reshape ourselves into the kind of people and nation. We want to be and we will not listen to the voice of the Lord now week. There may not be a whole lot that we can do as a result of what's happening in our nation.

Though this coming week I'm getting meeting with about 50 or 60 religious leaders were going to be talking about what we should be doing, how we should be living what information needs to be communicated in light of all that is happening around us, but I'm going to talk to you now as an individual, but first of all, another word about God's sovereignty over nations.

You know the Bible says that God is the God of the kingdom's and the thing that almost is surprising ending here. God says I'm devising evil against you. That doesn't mean that God does evil, but when he wants to judge a nation.

For example, is the prophet Habakkuk outlined God says I'm the one who's bringing the Babylonians. God says I am the one who is bringing people from the north or the folks here at Judah that were going to discuss in the next message and see how the Babylonians came and decimated the city and there was famine and there is children dying. God says I'm the one doing it now along concurrently with that of course there's human responsibility that's one of the great mysteries in the Bible, God's sovereignty and human responsibility. That's a topic that we could talk about for a long time.

The point is this God is sovereign over our country. And yes, God might be devising evil even for us because we are losing our way and were doing it very rapidly. God's sovereignty over nations. Now that's a little bit terrifying. I said that you might be encouraged is not as if God watches the news every day to say what the world are they doing in Washington now you know that God never learns it is as it dawned on you that nothing has ever dawned on and so God sees it but the fact that God is in charge. Whether it's America, whether it's Egypt, whether it's the Sudan that ultimately known then do what then do God rules over the nations of the earth. Remember, in fact, when you become discouraged. It is after all God's sovereign hand. So the first thing is a great lesson in the sovereignty of God over nations.

But secondly, second lesson is God who loves to remake marred vessels God says I will take your life and I will remake it and reshape it now. Yesterday also. When we arrived home, there was a letter waiting for us. That was such a great pastor I thought to myself, you know it's because of this that the ministries made worthwhile. It was a woman who wrote to us from the congregation here who talked about the fact that she came to Moody Church with such a sense of shame and loss and so much hurt from other Christians in a different context and how this was a time of healing and help and restoration. Some of you may be here. And the reason that you are here is you are just healing from past experiences.

If that's your if that's your experience. I hope that you've come to the right place that we might be able to speak hard things, but speak hard things with huge doses of grace and restoration. That's really our desire here at the church but she talked about this and in the very same way.

You see, God re-makes vessels.

First of all I he goes and he finds some clay. That's our can version he may be found clay in your part of the world in your home, wherever, and God says I'm going to make this vessel into something and then after our conversion what God does is he begins to remake it years ago Rebecca and I had lunch with a couple that's rather famous. I won't mention her name but the wife and she wrote a book about this… In any great secret.

She had five abortions.

I was a street woman actually and then came into a shelter in Los Angeles and was gloriously converted memorized 400 verses of Scripture, and she became the woman that she is today. God says here's a marred vessel, not just with alums but with undoubtedly dirt mixed in to the clay.

God says I'm going to clean her up so to speak, spiritually speaking and then I'm going to remake and reshape her into a vessel that honors me, the matter who you are today, God can do that. He is in the business of making vessels that are honorable will show that to you in the New Testament in just one minute now the point that I'm trying to make today is don't you try to remold yourself. Don't you resist the potter don't you say, God, if that's the way in which you're going to treat me I'm going to harden my heart against you don't say that rather say God I don't understand your ways your ways are mysterious and Lord. It hurts but make me into the vessel that you desire me to be. Don't resist the potter we can resist the potter even as believers and we can resist the potter as unbelievers. I'm thinking for example of Judas. Remember how Judas resisted Jesus and he never really became a vessel at all.

He ended up being that clay that was thrown off to the side. It became hard and unusable because Judas in the presence of Jesus. Mind you, for three years, takes your breath away so hardened his heart that he became a vessel unto dishonor and will be that for all eternity. I pour my heart out to you today. The potter has good designs to work the potter's way is best.

Don't remold your self but submit to the potter's hand, the apostle Paul in the book of Timothy said this now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay some for honorable use some for dishonorable. Therefore if any man cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy useful to the master of the house ready for every good work, become a vessel that God can use sees after something doesn't work helter-skelter.

As I mentioned, is not kids playing around with Plato.

He is trying to mold you and me, so that our character pleases him. God is in the people molding character building work and uses injustice.

Use everything and the clay can never say to the potter. You can use that.

Potter says we remember you're the clay on the potter. I can use what ever I want to shake what I want you to be you know when when pulses cleanse yourself obviously is not saying okay cleanse yourself in context.

Of course what he means is let God cling that God that's the beginning point the bid beginning point for those of you don't know Christ the Savior's to say I want to submit to Jesus Christ, to receive him as my Savior so that God might begin the work.

In May of holding me and making me but after he's done that God's as I have some much wonderful agenda for you. Now I want you to submit to me every day of your life because I want you to be a vessel for honorable use in the Masters hand.

Are we willing to do that for you willing to receive Christ as Savior. If you've never believed on him. Are you willing to submit to him.

If you have believed on him say okay God I thought you tooth and nail, but today I submit to the potter's hand. Let's pray father, we thank you today that you are sovereign, we thank you today that we have no right to tell you what you can use what you can't use so father we say this hesitantly because we know that the implications are huge, but by your grace. Use whatever you like, that we might become vessels fit for the Masters use mold us and make us come to us, shape us for those who've never trusted Christ as Savior made a right now say okay I believe in Jesus I trust his work on my behalf. We pray in this blessed name on on today's Moody Church. Our Dr. Erwin Lutzer spoke on Israel clay in the potter sands the fourth of 10 messages in a series on the church in Babylon unleashing the power of the spirit filled witness next time on The Moody Church. Our we again turned to Jeremiah and learn about when God judges the nation the church in Babylon series shows us how to live during times of spiritual darkness. We'd like to put this 10 part series in your hands on CD is our way of saying thanks for your gift of any amount to The Moody Church hour. Just call us at 1-800-215-5001.

Ask about the church in Babylon when you call one 800-2155 01 or you can write to us at The Moody Church 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 online go to that's join us next week for another Moody Church hour with Dr. Erwin Lutzer in the congregation of historic Moody Church in Chicago.

This broadcast is a ministry of The Moody Church and

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